(Courtesy of OU) Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on summer plans for thousands of individuals with special needs and their families, the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Yachad, the leading organization for individuals with disabilities in the Orthodox community, has created a unique summer experience for those in New York and New Jersey. The program will be part of an OU-wide summer initiative, “Project Community 2020” (PC20), focused on engaging teens, college students and Yachad members.
Launching throughout New York and New Jersey on July 13, Yachad’s offerings will include small-group, in-person recreational activities, Torah learning and volunteering. Groups will be limited to 10 participants and be run in compliance with local health and safety guidelines.
“While we all feel the impact of social distancing, it has been particularly challenging for those with special needs who heavily rely upon in-person connections and looked forward to their annual summer getaways in camp and Israel,” said Orthodox Union Incoming Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer. “Yachad’s component in PC20 answers the need for these valued members of our community helping to provide them with enriching programming for the summer like hopefully no other.”
The New Jersey programs will run for three two-week sessions in Bergen and Passaic counties. They will operate for five hours daily with night activities at least twice each week. In order to comfortably serve those from varying religious backgrounds, the programs will be offered for both coed and single-gender groups.
“Yachad’s summer program has been a staple for so many families with children with special needs and we know how important it is not just for the Yachad member but for their family. By working together, we were able to adapt our summer programs so that those in New York and New Jersey could join us as part of Project Community 2020 and have a wonderful summer experience,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane.
The programs will be led by Yachad staff, many of whom had previously planned to work in Yachad programs in sleepaway camps and Yachad’s Yad B’Yad travel program. All will be run in accordance with state and local health requirements. For more information, please visit https://www.pc20.org.
“The special needs community has been impacted tremendously by social distancing requirements,” said Yachad International Director Avrohom Adler. “It’s more important than ever that we include these valued members of our community, and their families, in the reopening of our community, and our goal with the Yachad element of PC20 is to help our community get back on its feet and include everyone in that process.”